In an archival photograph of Reagan's visit to the USSR, Putin was found: could he spy on the head of the United States
President Ronald Reagan stumbled upon future Russian President Vladimir Putin over 30 years ago? White House photographer Pete Sousa posted a curious photo on Instagram that piqued the interest of users. The edition told in more detail New York Post.
Sousa, best known as the man behind the camera during Barack Obama's two presidential terms, posted a picture ahead of US President Joe Biden's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva.
The photo shows Reagan reaching out to the boy as he accompanied Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on a tour of Red Square in the spring of 1988. Behind the boy is a blond man in tourist clothes with a camera around his neck, very similar to the young Putin.
Souza, who worked as the official White House photographer from 1983 until the end of Reagan's rule, loved the photo so much that he included it in his book of images of the 40th president, Unprotected Moments, which was published in 1993.
“About ten years later,” Sousa recalls. - I received a random letter in the mail from a person who asked if I knew that I had photographed Reagan and Vladimir Putin. I was amazed by this letter. "
Souza said he contacted the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California, as well as a National Security Council official in the George W. Bush administration, in an attempt to verify the tourist's identity, but was unable to do so.
Reports indicate that Putin was a KGB agent based in Dresden, East Germany in the late 1980s. It is unclear why he was summoned to Moscow, even for such a major event as the Reagan-Gorbachev summit, when, presumably, there were enough KGB agents in the Soviet capital to do any necessary work.
In 2009, Souza said: "As soon as you see a photo, immediately say:" Oh my gosh, this is really Putin. "
“It was a big mistake,” Souza wrote on Instagram. "I never had to say that because it has never really been verified."
Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov has vehemently denied that the photograph depicts the future Russian leader, telling reporters, "This is not him."
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A month later, the story took a new turn when Sousa received a postcard with a photograph of Reagan at his home address. Putin's lookalike was circled in red, and someone wrote the word "spy" with an arrow pointing at him. The photographer said that he gave the postcard to the secret service, but did not hear anything else about it.
This echoes Sousa's other recollection of a long tour of Red Square. As he said in 2009, Gorbachev introduced Reagan to tourists so that they could ask the president questions about the United States. Sousa said Reagan turned to the closest Secret Service agent and said, "I can't believe tourists in the Soviet Union ask such sensitive questions."
“Oh, these are all KGB families,” the agent replied.
The mystery is likely to remain unsolved without a full and frank statement from Putin himself, which seems unlikely. However, the tantalizing possibility of a chance encounter between once and future leaders will provide endless exploration of Sousa's photography.
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